The UNMOVIC and IAEA inspection teams conducted their first weapons inspections today. They left the Canal Hotel, the operations base for the weapons inspectors in Baghdad, at 8:30 a.m. They were accompanied by their Iraqi counterparts. The IAEA team returned to the operations base at about 12:30 p.m. The UNMOVIC team returned shortly after 5:00 p.m.
At the subsequent press briefing, Jacques Baute, the IAEA Iraq Action Team Leader, said that his team had visited a facility in northern Baghdad called Al Tahidi (Science Research Centre). His team was able to complete the inspection work it had planned to carry out.
Dimitri Perricos, the UNMOVIC inspection team leader and Director of the Division of Planning and Operations, UNMOVIC, said that his team had visited two sites at Al Rafah, approximately 130 km south southwest of Baghdad. One was a graphite plant and the other a missile engine testing facility.
In response to a question, Mr. Baute said that the site his team had visited today was a site previously visited. Asked about a plane, which might have caused an air raid siren to go off in Baghdad, Mr. Baute said that he had not seen any plane during his inspection, and that it was not related to his inspection.
Also in response to questions, Mr. Perricos said that the monitoring equipment at the site his team visited had been all taken away. Some were destroyed, but the rest was available at the National Monitoring Directorate. "We would be collecting them. Before we reinstall new equipment, we will need to rebaseline the site," he added.
Asked about the reason for his interest in graphyte, Mr. Perricos said that graphyte could be used for pencils as well as for missile batteries, and that it could be used in the cone of a missile during re-entry.
The UNMOVIC team currently has 11 inspectors and the IAEA 6 inspectors.
Spokesman for UNMOVIC and the IAEA in Baghdad